The release of average charges for common procedures in more than 3,000 U. S. hospitals last week by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) elicited divergent reactions ? not surprisingly. On one hand, it was front-page news for most of the major newspapers: "Hospital Billing Varies Wildly, Government Billing Data Shows," was the headline in the New York Times. The article went on to speculate that these new data would likely "intensify a long debate over the methods that hospitals use to determine their charges." On the other hand the data were "old hat" to most health policy analysts.